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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
Office sought: 13th Subcircuit (Pietrucha vacancy)
Family: Wife: Laura, and two children
Occupation: Assistant State's Attorney in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office; currently the Deputy Supervisor of the Domestic Violence Division
Education: Graduated from Illinois State University and earned J.D. from John Marshall Law School.
Civic involvement: Community Service: -- Member, Board of Directors ?Women in Need Growing Stronger (WINGS) -- Volunteer, Women in Need Growing Stronger (WINGS) -- Member, Illinois Family Violence Coordinating Council -- Volunteer, Habitat for Humanity and Love, Inc. -- Teacher, Domestic Violence Teen Dating Prevention Programs (in Cook County High Schools) -- Recipient of the ?Cook County Crime Prevention Public Service Award? -- Board of Directors, Buehler YMCA (Palatine) -- Former Republican Committeeman, Barrington Township -- Precinct Captain, Palatine Township Republican Organization
Elected offices held: Republican Committeeman, Barrington Township
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
My number one campaign point is that I am experienced, which is necessary to be an effective judge. I have been a prosecutor for 18 years, trying over 200 cases. I am an Assistant State's Attorney in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, currently serving as the Deputy Supervisor of the Domestic Violence Division. I have also worked in the Felony Trial Division, the Felony Review Unit, and the First Municipal Misdemeanor Division. It is these experiences that have prepared me to be an effective judge.
Key Issue 2
My second campaign point is that I am thoughtful, which is a prerequisite for any judge to finding the truth. And that is our ultimate goal in the court system: to find the truth, no matter how popular or unpopular those facts may be. It is this thoughtfulness that led to my being included on the statewide committee which was tasked with reviewing the Cindy Bischoff law to ultimately amend it so that it effectively fulfilled its original intent (protecting individuals from their abusive partners using a new GPS device). I was then placed on another committee tasked with writing a curriculum to train law enforcement and prosecutors statewide on the use of the Cindy Bischoff law, a responsibility which I have been fulfilling now for the past two and a half years.
Key Issue 3
My third campaign point is that I am fair, which is the most important trait for a judge. Ultimately, a good judge is an impartial judge, one who ensures that every person gets his or her fair day in court. It is this fairness displayed every day in my role as a prosecutor that has earned me a Qualified or Recommended rating from every major bar association in my jurisdiction, including the Chicago Bar Association, the Cook County Bar Association, and the Illinois State Bar Association.
Do you favor the appointment of judges or do you prefer the election process' Please explain your answer.
I believe the election process is the best way to select judges, as this gives the power to the individual voters. It is these individuals who will ultimately be judged and determined guilty or innocent by the individuals for whom they vote, so there is significant motivation to select judges who will be thoughtful and give them a fair day in court.
What special qualifications or experiences make you the best person to serve as a judge?
Every day when I step out of my house, I have to put integrity in my pocket knowing that I will have to make hard decisions that day that might not be popular. In my division, I face many difficult situations. Sometimes there are situations where victims want to proceed against their significant others but because there is not enough evidence I have to dismiss the case. Sometimes there are situations where victims do not want to proceed against their significant other but because I have strong evidence I have to proceed in order to hold that person accountable. These decisions are not popular, but they are right, and that's what is important. Just like a judge, my duty is to the law and I take my responsibility to seek out the facts, regardless of their popularity, very seriously.
What are your thoughts on mandatory sentencing? Do you believe judges should have greater leeway when it comes to sentencing defendants' Why or why not?
I believe a judge should have the leeway to use their discretion in sentencing. They should be allowed to look at the totality of the circumstances surrounding a specific crime and make a determination as to what the sentence is for that particular crime and those specific facts. There certainly should be a range, minimum and maximum, in order to ensure a consistent system of sentencing, but judges ought to be afforded more leeway to use their discretion, as every set of circumstances is unique.
What are your thoughts on the use of drug courts, domestic violence courts, veterans courts, mental health courts and prostitution courts' Have they been effective?
These courts have been very effective. One of the reasons for this is because the individuals who staff those courtrooms have a working knowledge of that specific specialty. For instance, in the domestic violence courtroom you have personnel and staff who are trained in these special circumstances. There are prosecutors who understand why victims are reluctant to testify against perpetrators. There are judges who have a working knowledge of why victims stay with the offenders and why there are repeat offenders. Without these specialized individuals, you weaken the court's ability to ensure accountability for the offenders and their ultimate rehabilitation.
Do you support eliminating the ban on cameras and recording devices in Illinois courtrooms' Why or why not?
I do not support eliminating this ban, because ultimately the courtroom is a place to find the truth. I fear that once you allow for cameras and recording devices in the courtroom you will see individuals who forget their ultimate responsibility and are instead focused on those devices. This hurts the search for justice, and in a situation where the ultimate goal is the impartial search for facts there can be nothing that hinders this process. I can fully understand why the media would want greater access, and I am more willing to be in favor of this issue when it comes to audio recording devices than I am with video recording devices.